Cary Donaldson (Romeo), woman is Rachel Mewbron (Juliet). Photo
Credit: Matt Harrington
Wheelhouse Theater Company’s production of Romeo and Juliet,
By Nicholas Linnehan
its beautiful set and strong ensemble, it’s a shame this production only has
problem with doing a well-known play is simple, everyone knows it. Therefore,
the audience comes in with certain expectations of what they are going to see.
When those notions are altered, it can become unsettling. Unfortunately,
despite a strong ensemble, Wheelhouse Theater Companies production of Romeo
and Juliet, falls a little short in delivering a show that truly breaks
through. It is not a poor production, but neither is it groundbreaking.
happens when two star-crossed lovers meet on a fated night and fall madly in
love? Can their love survive amidst two opposing households? These are the
central questions and plot lines in this bittersweet romance. Does love truly
conquer all? And what about the excruciating agony we feel when we lose what we
love? The irony and pain in this play tug at everyones' heartstrings making it
the classic it is.
all know the classic love story so well that our ideas of what it should and
shouldn't be are set. before we even enter the theater. That makes the
production company’s job exponentially harder. The problem with cutting the
scrip down to 90 minutes, which they do, is two-fold. You lose some of the
beautiful signature language in the soliloquy's and the story moves so fast
that it gets confusing. When things move so quickly and actors have to double
and triple play roles, it becomes chaotic and overwhelming. It gets difficult
to follow all the character shifts and we spend too much time trying to figure
out who's talking, instead of getting enveloped into the story. The actor
playing Tybalt, Benvolio, and Paris is especially hard to follow One minute he
is a Montague and the next a Capulet.. Even though the costumes were slightly
different for each character, it still looked like the same person and was thus
confusing to follow. This is no fault to the actor himself as he copes the best
he can with what is required of him.
cast are a bunch of fine actors. Cary Donaldson plays Romeo. He captures
Romeo's youthful exuberance well. And his chemistry with Juliet, Rachel Mewbron
is palpable. The two are electric on stage and carry the heart of the story
passionately. Brendan Titley is delightful as Friar Laurence and is a scene
Jeff Wise and Matt Harrington have a clear grasp of the language and the actors
speak with conviction, but in normal voices. Sometimes actors give an affected
performance because it is classical, often detracting from the beauty of the
words. Gladly, that doesn't happen here. Everyone communicates cleanly,
honestly, and simply which enhances their performances. They do their best to
cope with the mayhem of the play. Brittany Vasta gives us an exceptional scenic
design and the set is gorgeous adding the romantic flair to the play. The
costumes needed more distinction between characters
I could have enjoyed the play a lot more if the theater itself wasn't so
unfathomably hot. Audience member were dripping with sweat when the show ended.
It is a definite barrier to the production. If you go see this, bring water and
wear loose fitting clothes!
Romeo and Juliet
plays now through July 9, 2016 at 354 W. 54th St.